From the Hardcover edition.
From the Hardcover edition.
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On December 7, 2059, Emilio Sandoz was released from the isolation ward of Salvator Mundi Hospital in the middle of the night and transported in a bread van to the Jesuit Residence at Number 5 Borgo Santo Spìrito, a few minutes' walk across St. Peter's Square from the Vatican. The next day, ignoring shouted questions and howls of journalistic outrage as he read, a Jesuit spokesman issued a short statement to the frustrated and angry media mob that had gathered outside Number 5's massive front door.
"To the best of our knowledge, Father Emilio Sandoz is the sole survivor of the Jesuit mission to Rakhat. Once again, we extend our thanks to the U.N., to the Contact Consortium and to the Asteroid Mining Division of Ohbayashi Corporation for making the return of Father Sandoz possible. We have no additional information regarding the fate of the Contact Consortium's crew members; they are in our prayers. Father Sandoz is too ill to question at this time and his recovery is expected to take months. Until then, there can be no further comment on the Jesuit mission or on the Contact Consortium's allegations regarding Father Sandoz's conduct on Rakhat."
This was simply to buy time.
It was true, of course, that Sandoz was ill. The man's whole body was bruised by the blooms of spontaneous hemorrhages where tiny blood vessel walls had breached and spilled their contents under his skin. His gums had stopped bleeding, but it would be a long while before he could eat normally. Eventually, something would have to be done about his hands.
Now, however, the combined effects of scurvy, anemia and exhaustion kept him asleep twenty hours out of the day. When awake, he lay motionless, coiled like a fetus and almost as helpless.
The door to his small room was nearly always left open in those early weeks. One afternoon, thinking to prevent Father Sandoz from being disturbed while the hallway floor was polished, Brother Edward Behr closed it, despite warnings about this from the Salvator Mundi staff. Sandoz happened to wake up and found himself shut in. Brother Edward did not repeat the mistake.
Vincenzo Giuliani, the Father General of the Society of Jesus, went each morning to look in on the man. He had no idea if Sandoz was aware of being observed; it was a familiar feeling. When very young, when the Father General was just plain Vince Giuliani, he had been fascinated by Emilio Sandoz, who was a year ahead of Giuliani during the decade-long process of priestly formation. A strange boy, Sandoz. A puzzling man. Vincenzo Giuliani had made a statesman's career of understanding other men, but he had never understood this one.
Gazing at Emilio, sick now and almost mute, Giuliani knew that Sandoz was unlikely to give up his secrets any time soon. This did not distress him. Vincenzo Giuliani was a patient man. One had to be patient to thrive in Rome, where time is measured not in centuries but in millennia, where patience and the long view have always distinguished political life. The city gave its name to the power of patience--Romanità. Romanità excludes emotion, hurry, doubt. Romanità waits, sees the moment and moves ruthlessly when the time is right. Romanità rests on an absolute conviction of ultimate success and arises from a single principle, Cunctando regitur mundis: Waiting, one conquers all.
So, even after sixty years, Vincenzo Giuliani felt no sense of impatience with his inability to understand Emilio Sandoz, only a sense of how satisfying it would be when the wait paid off.
The Father General's private secretary contacted Father John Candotti on the Feast of the Holy Innocents, three weeks after Emilio's...
About the Author-
Trained as a paleoanthropologist, and the author of scientific articles on subjects ranging from bone biology to cannibalism, Mary Doria Russell received her B.A. in cultural anthropology from the University of Illinois, her M.A. in social anthropology from Northeastern University and her doctorate in biological anthropology from the University of Michigan. After quitting academia and writing computer manuals, she began work on The Sparrow. She lives with her husband and son in Cleveland, Ohio.
- America "It is science fiction brought back to the project with which it began inthe hands of a writer like Jules Verne: the necessity of wonder, the hopefor moral rectitude, and the possibility of belief."
- Science Fiction Weekly "Russell's debut novel...focuses on her characters, and it is here thatthe work truly shines. An entertaining infusion of humor keeps the bookfrom becoming too dark, although some of the characters are so clever thatthey sometimes seem contrived. Readers who dislike an emphasis on moraldilemmas or spiritual quests may be turned off, but those who enjoyscience fiction because it can create these things are in for a realtreat."
- San Francisco Chronicle "The Sparrow tackles a difficult subject with grace andintelligence."
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel "The Sparrow is an incredible novel, for one reason. Though it isset in the early twenty-first century, it is not written like most sciencefiction. Russell's novel is driven by her characters, by their complexrelationships and inner conflicts, not by aliens or technology."
- San Antonio Express News "It is rare to find a book about interplanetary exploration that has thismuch insight into human nature and foresight into a possible future."
- The Seattle Times "Two narratives--the mission to the planet and its aftermath four decadeslater--interweave to create a suspenseful tale."
- Entertainment Weekly "By alternating chapters that dramatize Sandoz's tough-love interrogationwith flashbacks to the mission's genesis, flowering, and tragic collapse,The Sparrow casts a strange, unsettling emotional spell, bouncingreaders from scenes of black despair to ones of wild euphoria, from thebracing simplicity of pure adventure to the complicated tangles ofnonhuman culture and politics.--The smooth storytelling and gorgeouscharacterization can't be faulted."
PublisherRandom House Publishing Group
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